Christmas Stocking Relay

This is just like an egg and spoon race, but Christmas themed.

Before class, prepare one bowl, one spoon and one Christmas stocking per team, as well as at least one candy per student and a few extras just in case.

To play the game, students must use the spoon to pick up a candy from the bowl, carry it across the classroom, and put it in their team’s Christmas stocking. The first team to have every student successfully put the candy in the stocking is the winner.

For fun, you can also have the students use chopsticks instead of spoons to pick up the candy.

As a variation, you can have one team sing or recite a lesson while the other team is filling the stocking. Then both teams switch, and whichever team puts more candy in their stocking is the winner. I’d award both teams their own stocking, plus the winner gets the leftovers in the bowl.


Straw Relay Race

This is like the Candy and Spoon Race, but a bit more ridiculous. Rather than balancing a candy on a spoon, the students each have a drinking straw, and need to breathe in to hold a candy or a ping-pong ball onto the straw.

To play with a ping-pong ball, follow the rules for the Candy and Spoon Race. If you’re playing with candies instead, use small candies like m&m’s or small gumballs. Each team has a bowl or cup of candies in its starting place. The first student uses the straw to pick up a candy, then runs the obstacle course and returns to the desk. Instead of giving her candy to the next student (Gross! Germs!) she puts her candy down on the desk, and the next student (using his own straw) picks up a different candy from the cup and runs the race. Dropped candies are (obviously) discarded and the racer must return to the candy bowl to get a new candy. The first team to successfully carry ten candies through the race and put them on the desk without dropping them is the winner!


Candy and Spoon Relay Race

This is a less-messy version of the classic egg-and-spoon race.

You’ll need at least two spoons per team, and several large round candies – think jawbreakers. For a Halloween party, I’ll be using eyeball jawbreakers or gumballs. I suppose you could use ping pong balls, too.

To play, the first team members take a candy and place it on a spoon. They need to walk/run from one end of the class to the other, walk around an obstacle (a chair or desk, if you’re inside), and return to the starting point, without dropping the candy from the spoon. Then, they have to tip the candy from their spoon to their teammate’s spoon, and the race continues until every member of the team has completed the race. If someone drops a candy, they need to return to their home base to get a new candy, then that person runs their leg of the race again.


If you want to play this game during class without moving all your desks around, I have another version of the game. For this one, only one team is doing the spoon race at a time. The other team is performing some other kind of speed test – reading a passage, answering review questions, etc. After the reading team finishes, record how well the racing team did, then switch roles. Award points for the number of passes completed, and subtract points for dropped candies.


Categories Race

This is a fun game to play with intermediate to advanced classes to get them thinking and up out of their seats at the same time.

Before class, make a list of categories for your students. Categories could be foods, animals, drinks, types of transportation, and simple things like that. More advanced students can handle categories like “things you don’t want to see when you look under the bed”, “ways to kill someone”, and “bad excuses for not doing your English homework”.

To play, divide the class into teams. Each team has a space to write on the board, with numbers from one to six (or ten, if the team has enough members and you want to challenge them). The rules are that students must write as many words or phrases as they can that fit into the category provided. Each round ends when the first team has filled out all six (or ten) blanks with answers. Score one point for acceptable answers, and you can choose to give half points for iffy ones or put the answers up to a class vote.

A sample categories race that my class did. You can see some confusion about what finger foods are - a couple of students thought they were foods you could dip your fingers into. Also, the whole class argued that ham was better eaten with the fingers, so I gave them credit for it. And ice cream cones and bars are both held in the hand, so I accepted it reluctantly. This round was a tie.

A sample categories race that my class did. You can see some confusion about what finger foods are – a couple of students thought they were foods you could dip your fingers into. Also, the whole class argued that ham was better eaten with the fingers, so I gave them credit for it. And ice cream cones and bars are both held in the hand, so I accepted it reluctantly. This round was a tie.

For a large class, or to avoid total chaos, have students take turns running up to the board to write one word apiece for their team. In smaller classes, you can get away with having the whole class gathered around the board suggesting answers as one student on each team writes their team’s answers down.

A round takes only about three minutes in an active class, including time to evaluate the answers.

Categories suggestions for advanced students:

  • Ways to kill someone
  • Things you don’t want to see under your bed
  • Foods you can eat with your fingers
  • Words that describe our teacher
  • Things you’d want in a husband
  • Parts of the body
  • Things you shouldn’t say to your mother
  • Bad excuses for not doing your English homework
  • Ways to make the class next door angry
  • Things you shouldn’t teach your little brother
  • Places to go on vacation with your friends
  • Things you can’t explain to your grandmother
  • Activities you avoid doing
  • Things people criticize or complain about
  • Things to do when you have time to kill and no smartphone

Word Relay

Divide students into teams. Students line up in front of the board, and each team has a starting word written on the board. (A fun way to start is for each team to choose a name – Elephant versus Tiger – and the team name is the starting word.)

For game play, each student on the team has to write a word that begins with the last letter of the previous word. For example,





and so on. If this is the first time playing, make sure students understand that each word depends on the word before it – some kids get confused and think every word should start with the same letter. The game ends after a time limit (two to three minutes works well) or when one team reaches a target number of words (20, for example).

Note: I allow team members to help each other out with word suggestions or spelling, and don’t allow repeated words (including words that the other team used). A good rule to institute is that students may not shout out the spelling of a word that the student is struggling with, but have to shout out the sound of the letter that comes next instead. For example, a student is struggling with the word Mexican and has written only Mexi____. students can shout “Kuh! Kuh!” (student writes c) “Ah! Ah!” (student writes a) “Nnn! Nnn!” (student writes n). 


Horse Race

Draw a racetrack on the board – it can look like a ruler or a circular track with a marked finish line. Make sure it’s long enough for each member of a team to get a turn – about three or four spaces per person per turn is a good bet.

A simple racetrack design

A simple racetrack design

You’ll need a magnet for each team to mark their horse’s place. I drew game pieces in the shapes of frogs, horses, rabbits, and race cars on construction paper and stuck magnets to the back of them, but regular magnets will do in a pinch.

For game play, the teacher calls on one student from each team to come to the front. The teacher asks a question, and the students answer it. After students answer the question, they roll a dice to see how many spaces their team’s horse can advance. (The teacher can decide whether only the fastest student gets to roll the dice, or all students with correct answers.)


Monster Teacher

The teacher has a set of flash cards, of words that the students have already learned. The teacher holds up one card from the set, and students race to name it. The first student to name the card gets to hold on to it. The teacher continues to distribute cards in this way until every student has a flash card.

Once all cards are in kids’ hands, the teacher begins to ask “Who has the apple?” The student with the apple flash card has to stand up and return the card to the teacher. However, the teacher is now a monster who will try to grab the student’s wrist as the student returns the card. The student must put the card in the teacher’s hand (or in a pile on the teacher’s desk or other designated spot) without getting caught by the monster teacher! (Don’t let the students throw the cards – they must place them before running away.)